The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides: Book Review

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Reading this novel was like consuming the most delicious and fascinating structure of words in the English language. To say that I adored the experience of reading this novel and the novel itself is an understatement. I don’t know why I put off reading it for so long. I began reading it a while ago, and found it extremely witty and intriguing, but as it happens sometimes, other things (and other books) got in the way of reading it back then. Now that I have finished reading it, I am beyond words to even describe how wonderful it was.

Jeffrey Eugenides is just an amazing craftsman, that much I can tell you. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with a similar voice and tone as his. The way he chose to tell the story of the Lisbon girls is beyond anything else. From point of view/narration to the poetic and hypnotic use of language to the way the story flows seamlessly, Eugenides has definitely become a favourite author of mine, and The Virgin Suicides is creeping further and further up my favourite books of all time list the more time I spend thinking about it.

I’m sorry to tell you that this review will not suffice to informing you just how fascinating this novel really is. I am literally speechless. There was just so much in this novel about childhood and growing up and the fragility and futility of life (at least so far as it can often be). There’s so much about loving without really knowing, death, decay, mental illness and desire. The story winds through the young lives of the Lisbon girls through the eyes of the boys who loved them in such a way that makes the reader feel everything they did when they thought about the girls – which they spent the majority of their lives doing. Instantly I was pulled into this world, into the minds of the boys as they tried to understand these girls, and the magnetic force that pulled them towards the Lisbon house on their street.

I can’t say much more, because to be honest, I am currently unable to put together a review that really honours this amazing novel. All I can say now is that I strongly advice, if you think you’ll enjoy a novel that focuses on the internal struggles of a neighbourhood during the Year of Suicides, a novel that filled my mind with endless wit and sorrow, you to read this novel STAT.

There is also a film version made in 1999, which I saw a couple of years ago. I can’t remember liking it nearly as much as the novel though. There really is something incredibly wonderful about Eugenides writing that makes it all the worth while to spend the extra time reading the story rather than watching the cut-down version. There is just so much more in this novel, and I really think it deserves to be appreciated by an avid reader.


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